According to reports, various non-governmental organisations have made an urgent application to the Constitutional Court for an order declaring that baby clothes for newborns should be on the essential goods list.
The application was made by the Tebeila Institute of Leadership, Education, Governance and Training and the African Institute for Human Rights and Constitutional Litigation. The organisations say it is unconstitutional that baby clothes for newborns have been left off the list of essential goods available to buy under the lockdown.
“If this court does not intervene on an urgent basis, the newborn babies born during the lockdown or a few days or hours before the lockdown may be left without clothes to keep their bodies warm,”
The two organisations said in their court papers, that were reportedly filed on Monday, that the Tebeila Institute had been approached by a number of pregnant women and mothers of newborn babies “raising concerns that they are unable to buy clothes for the newborn babies and babies which are due to be delivered during this period of lockdown”.
The Tebeila Institute’s Thabiso Lekoko said shops selling baby clothes, blankets, towels, baby beds, and other baby accessories for newborn babies were now closed. Even if they were to open, due to them also selling baby food, they would not be allowed to sell clothes, she said.
This is in breach of section 28(2) of the Constitution, which provides that in every matter concerning a child, the child’s best interests are of paramount importance, she said.
Newborns without clothes were also at greater risk of catching Covid-19 and of being exposed to the cold “since the season is now changing to winter and in some parts of the country it is already cold”.
Lekoko said: “It is currently unknown whether the period of lockdown will go beyond 16 April or not. It is of utmost importance that this court deals with the constitutionality of the impugned directive as soon as possible because of its ramifications on the best interest of the newborn babies.”
Lekoko said a direct approach to the Constitutional Court was necessary because going to the high court could delay matters if the case was taken on appeal.